theferrett: (Meazel)

Shaving News
Today, I passed a major milestone: the shave I gave myself with my straight razor was far better than I could have achieved with a disposable razor.

Floyd he straight razor’s performance has been, if you’ll pardon the phrase, neck-and-neck with my old Gillette.  Trusty Floyd was closer on the flat areas like my cheeks, but turned a little treacherous when it came to the curves of my jaw, leaving me a little patchy.  The Gillette was more constant, giving me a mediocre shave all around.

But I learned how to do the triple-pass – I have to shave three times to get the perfect shave – and how to angle Floyd to maneuver around the hollows of my throat.  Today’s shave is cut-free and baby-smooth.

Therefore, I’ll say that it takes about two months of straight razor shaving before you get – pardon me again – the edge on the competition.

*takes off sunglasses*


Updates On Our Bees
The bees are a major draw to this blog, but we haven’t updated in a while because of this bitterly cold winter.  Every day we’ve been tempted to get all up in our bees, it’s been forty degrees.

What we do know are two things:

1)  The mean bees, the ones that stung us, are dead.  We haven’t seen a single bee poke its head out.  And we’re a little grateful for that, as we’d have had to requeen.

2)  Our good bees are struggling.  There’s only a handful of them flying out, and we suspect most of them died.  We have been feeding them, and it’s been a slow process as they rebuild; I hope the queen is alive in there. We’re hoping to check next week, but it’s not like there’s really anything extra we can do for them at this stage, so there’s no sense opening up their insulated hive to freezing winds.  (There’s predictions of snow tomorrow.  SNOW.)

Current plan is to get into the dead beehive, empty out the bees, and introduce a fresh box of bees to the old home of the dead ones.  A little morbid, but it means those bees will have a jump-start; they won’t need to waste their initial efforts (and food supplies!) on building comb.  Which means we can hope these new bees will thrive.  The old bees, well, when we get in there, I have a sneaking suspicion they may be trying to birth a new queen.  We’ll see when we get in there.

The biggest hope is that after three seasons of beekeeping, we will actually get honey from a hive.  No, we have yet to do this.  The first year, our bees had produced enough we probably could have taken some, but we were worried that if we skimmed too much honey they might not survive the winter.  Last year was a scarcer season, and the queen separator we purchased kept the bees out of the honey super entirely.  So not a single drop.

This year.  This year will be sweet.  I can feel it in my bees.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

It’s been three weeks since I last drew blood with Floyd the straight razor, and as such I feel compelled to speak upon what I have learned.  The straight razor is good tool for shaving, but it’s also got some finicky bits I figured I’d go over.

Tip #1: Get a really good shaving cream. 
Oh, you can use thin soap, or even *gasp* just hot water, but a good rich later is like training wheels; it lets the blade slide over your skin easier, and any time it’s sliding over your skin it’s not cutting into it.

I myself use Jack Black Supreme cream, which I highly recommend, but the shaving cream that came with my kit was crap and the Burt’s Bees stuff I got at Walgreen’s slightly less crap.  Find something thick and gooey, and don’t skimp on the application.  My cutting went way down when I got a good lubricant.

Tip #2: If the grip feels uncomfortable, it’s not gonna work. 
The razor is a simple tool: one handle, one blade, one pivot.  And when you start out, you’ll see all sorts of potential grips to hold this deadly thing, each designed for someone to hit a different area of their face.  And you’ll emulate some of these, and they’ll feel wildly wrong to you.  Not just “uncomfortable,” for every time you bring a blade against your skin you’ll feel a bit odd, but wrong, as in your fingers feel like they’re about to slip.

Every one of those wildly wrong grips wound up carving me up like a turkey.

Eventually, I settled for a grip that appears in no manual I’ve seen, but it feels comfortable for me.  The point is that the grips are the suggested starting points; you’ll evolve your own, soon enough, and the sooner the better.  Don’t try to emulate others, find your own method.

Tip #3: Only shave with the grain the first few weeks.  Then shave against. 
When you start out, shaving down your cheeks is easy; you’re not levering the blade under the hairs, thus potentially sawing down and cutting yourself.  And then you go upwards, shaving at a more awkward angle, one where any looseness of the skin will kill you, and whoops – cuts.

My advice is to only shave with the grain, until you get a sense of how to cut easy hair.  Then, once you’ve mastered that, move on to against the grain, which will involve more cutting, but you’ll at least have less cutting because you know the basics.

Tip #4: Know Thy Face.
Eventually, you’re going to realize that your face has its own hollows and bumps, treacherous areas and easy passes.  That’s why you pay attention while you’re shaving – to try to figure out what areas you really need to pay attention to. For example, weirdly enough, I have never once cut myself on the underside of my throat above my Adam’s apple – you’d think I would, but the skin is taut and forgiving.

My pudgy cheeks, however? The doughy skin there attracts cuts like mosquitoes.

Your end goal will be to make two or three passes over your face, and to do that you’ll need to recognize that not all facial areas are equal.  Some will hurt you if you’re not paying attention.  So make a mental map of your visage, and start seeing where the issues are.  It’s a weird thing, but oddly pleasant once you start; it’s getting in touch with your own body, finding strange surprises in something you thought you knew all too well.

Tip #5: If you’re unsure, either stop or keep going. 
All of my cuts come from hesitation.  The goal is to sweep smoothly across the skin.  And if you hit a point where you’re not sure whether you should keep going, you need to do one of two things:

a) Stop.
b)  Keep going like you were.

However, most novices seem to go with c), slow way down, which is your worst option.  When you slow down, your hand starts to tremble a bit, you often unconsciously pull away a little, and then the skin slackens and the edge bites into flesh.  It took me a while to realize that shaving is, in fact, about confidence – when you’re not sure, either pull the blade away completely, relather, and go at it again, or confidently move forward as if you know what you’re doing.

Strangely, as in life, that usually works out.

Tip #6: Lather up a balloon.  Shave it.  When you can scrape all of the lather off the balloon without popping it, you can shave a face.
…okay, I’ve never done that.  But that’s how they taught my barber in barbers’ college.  Isn’t that cool?  I mean, Gini would have killed me, spattering lather all over the walls and filling the house with sporadic explosions, but I think it’s fucking awesome and at least one of you should do it.  And YouTube it.  YouTube it copiously.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

If you take out the eight weeks of post-heart attack recuperation, I have been shaving with a straight razor for a solid month now.  And I must say, the biggest appeal of it all is how toyetic the process is.

“Toyetic” is a made-up word that explained Star Wars’ appeal; it made lots of cool toys.  Whereas while, say, Independence Day is a fine movie on its own merits, there’s only one alien and it’s kind of ugly.  (Seriously, who wants to play with the Jeff Goldblum doll?)  And shaving with a straight razor appeals to men because it is not only stupidly dangerous and useless, but it is marvelously toyetic.

As witness! Before, my entire shaving kit consisted of this pathetic set in a shower:


Now, it consists of this fine, intimidating regiment:


And all of those items, my friends, are the topic of stupid debates, which men naturally love. What brand of shaving cream should you use… or should you use shaving oil? Is that badger hair brush really top-of-the-line?  How many times should you apply the hot towel to your face during a shave? What grip should you use?  All of these allow a man to have firm opinions about something that matters really not at all, which is of course a fine thing to have.

The thing is, I find myself shaving for pleasure, which is odd.  Yesterday, I completed work and went into the bathroom to treat myself – yes, to treat myself! – to a nice long shave. I call it my “blood meditation,” because you cannot shave quickly with a straight razor, and you’d be foolish to try.  No, no matter how hectic your life, you must slow down to match the pace of the shave – holding the hot towel to your face, lathering up in the cup, smooshing the lather into your face.

UntitledAnd, of course, the shave.  The shave teaches you to pay attention to your face with strange detail.  Before, if you’d asked me about my face, I’d have told you it was, well, a face.  But now I see it in angles; there’s my sadly soft cheeks, which tend to mush under the blade, and the treacherous hollows under my jawline, and the underside of my neck.  I pay attention to the directions my facial hair grows, for I must shave against the grain for the closest cut – and that, my friends, changes from inch to inch.  I now occasionally just touch my face gently, with the tips of my fingers, trying to recall which way my beard grows.

So much of the shave is in that approach.  Which way do I cut?  I keep changing my approach, looking for the perfect set of swathes that lead me to a face with no stubble whatsoever.  I haven’t found it; I think I’ve mastered it, then as I apply the post-shave witch hazel I find another thatch of cut, but not perfectly cut, hair.  And there is pleasure in seeking that perfection.

Do I cut myself?  Yes, of course.  And almost always in the same place.  For as I try to cut against the grain (which is to say, towards my ear) along my right cheek, I always find this awkward moment where I can’t cut all the way smoothly with my right hand.  It’s my elbow, my damnable elbow.  So I slow down, and slowing down lets the razor bite, and as such I not only have this same cut but you can actually see where the stubble is thicker after it.  I have to find a better approach, even as I am terrified to switch to try to use my trembling left hand, as others have suggested.

As for the name of my razor?  Well, many suggested – ha ha! – Sweeney, even though I said I do not want to cuddle up with a bloodthirsty razor.  No, I want a comforting razor, a razor that is redolent of 1950s barber shops and men in nice fedoras getting a fine shave before they head off to the office.  As such, several people wisely suggested “Floyd,” as in Mayberry’s own Floyd the Barber, and I think that is a most, most excellent name for a razor.  Floyd never wanted to cut anyone; he just wanted to even out your sideburns.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

For the last two weeks, I have been pressing a cold blade to my face and having it shear off my epidermis.  This straight razor has removed hairs, supped on my blood, tasted my fear as I have learned to come to an uncomfortable balance with it.

Yet we have never been properly introduced.

As the lovely Sheryl points out, if I am going to have a blade, it should damn well have a name.  I don’t really want to name it as a weapon, as if it’s drawing blood, it’s my own fault.  Still, the blade is unforgiving, and I feel that perhaps granting it a semblance of the life it is so cheerfully nicking from my face might help me to keep things together.

So.  What is my razor’s name?  I’ll announce a winner sometime next week.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

Here is today’s grand straight razor shaving adventure in three photos:

Shaving against the grain

First, here is me unshaven.  And uncombed.  And un-everything, Jesus Christ, I’m not a movie star I BRUSHED MY TEETH FOR YOU BEFORE THIS WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT

Shaving against the grain

Here is me having shaved with the grain of my skin, i.e., “Down slope on the hairs.”  I have pretty much mastered this.  The reason I look terrified is because I am about to shave against the grain, which is to say, “Uphill,” which is to say “I’mma about to cut my face all up again.”

Shaving against the grain

…but it went okay!  A little razor burn, to be sure.  This is the first shave I’ve had since I started shaving with the straight razor that’s actually comparable to the disposable – something no one tells you about.  Sure, you will have a super-close shave, eventually, but first you’re going to have a three o’clock shadow immediately after shaving.  Or, you know, a face full of gashes.  Or both.

There’s really three tricks, I’ve learned, about straight razor shaving: first, you have to have a good cream.  The shaving soap I had wasn’t working, even with the judicious application of hot water to my face beforehand; if you’re an amateur, like I am, you need a thick layer of goop to blunt the deadly edge in your trembling hands.  A handful of tiny bubbles ain’t gonna cut it, Mr. Ho.  Or, to be more accurate, it will cut it all too well.

The second trick is that you have to have a good grip.  But like writing, while everyone’s full of advice and you should try everything out, it always comes down to what works for you.  I have yet to find any manual that suggests the rather awkward grip I use, but once I discovered that’s what I was comfortable with, things got better.

And the third trick is that you have to understand skin.  It is, as polymorphism put it, “a new intimacy with your own skin.”  Straight razor shaving requires you to really pay attention to that fleshy cheek, that ridge over the jaw, that hollow on the left side of your throat.  You’re learning how to interact with your body in a new way – which, as polymorphism also put it, is rather a wonder to discover after possessing a body for forty-three years.

Next up: Honing, in about a month.  We’ll see how that goes.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

theferrett: (Meazel)

So Gini got me a straight razor for Christmas.  I have now shaved twice with a straight razor.  How’s that working?


That looks bloody, and it is, but it’s actually not bad for a starter.  The trick, as Gary Braunbeck has noted, is not to hesitate.  Yes, you are sweeping a literally razor-sharp implement of vengeance over your skin.  Yes, you are angling it slightly, so that it could cut you.  Yes, this is a weapon that can, and has, killed many people by cutting the soft, soft flesh that you are pressing this razor to right now.

But do not slow down!  Be graceful, sweeping.  If you falter, then the blade digs in, and you wind up with a cut like mine.

This is why the shaving scene works so well in Skyfall.  Shaving is an exercise in confidence.  You tremble, you bleed.  Your hand must be steady.

I’m experiencing two major problems with the straight razor shave, and the first was poor instruction.  The “Learn to Shave” DVD we got as a part of this kit is abysmal, for it was made by a shaving collector.  And he loves the overshare.  Wanna learn how to strop?  Well, he’s gonna get out literally twelve strops and show you each of them, talking about the minute and completely irrelevant differences, and spent – I kid you not – twenty minutes going over them all.  Then eight minutes on stropping.

Plus, while there is great debate about what kinds of grip you should use in the straight-razor community, this guy has a technique I can’t get behind.  See, it’s a stretch to reach over with your right hand to shave your left cheek… so his fix is to use your left hand to shave your left cheek!  And what could be better than using your bad hand when you’re holding a knife?  I didn’t cut myself, but that’s because I barely touched myself, for my left hand was so incompetent I wouldn’t trust it to chop raisins, let alone my face.

The other problem is the shaving soap.  It’s a very thin lather, no matter how much I foam it up, and so I think I need some genuine shaving cream, a big thick layer to use to buffer this blade.  The big cut, again, came from when I was going over an area with the blade, and had shaved off most of the soap.  I need lubrication, badly, and I think I need more of it.

That said, it’s a tremendously focusing activity.  Many of the shaving aficionados liken it to meditation, and I could see that – you really shouldn’t be distracted while dragging a knife over your throat.  It’s a kind of luxurious process; wet the towel, hold the boiling water to your face, lather, hold the towel to your face, lather again, first pass.  Then lather, and shave against the grain.  It forces you to pay attention to the here and now, and that’s useful.

That said, is this a closer shave than I normally get?


No, this is a terrible shave, all patchy and stubbly and far worse than my Gillette Mach 3.  But that’s experience.  I know from my barber Rainier that it can be a wondrously close shave, baby-smooth, but for now it’s the kind of thing where I don’t know what I’m doing and my face is paying for it.  I need a better aftershave, since I have razorburn and petachia that would be fixed with a little Witch Hazel.  (Thank God, Rainier taught me that trick as well.)

Does it hurt?  Well, I’m not the guy to ask, seeing as my appendix exploded and I thought it was just stomach flu.  But it’s a little stingy.  The cuts don’t hurt right away, which is part of the problem – I think of all those movie scenes where the guy’s shaving, then winces, and then there’s blood.  No, this is a surgical cut, so clean you barely feel it, and it’s not until after a bit that you realize oh, hey, there’s a nick.  And then you have to use that damn styptic pencil, which is like Solarcaine on a sunburn.  (Not that I’ve had a cut that required the styptic pencil to stop bleeding, but I feel as though there should be some punitive measures involved.)

In the meantime, shaving’s given me one of my favorite pictures as of late – my hair, with just a teeny bit of blood on the edge.  It’s strangely artistic to me.


Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.


theferrett: (Default)

September 2017

34 5 6 789
10 1112 13141516
17 1819 20 212223


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Apr. 23rd, 2019 10:56 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios